In spite of growing up in rural Wisconsin, I have only been fishing a couple of times. I wasn’t very good at it. There seemed to be too much variety to have a chance of getting things right: lures, rods, fish varieties, and locations all seemed to be beyond me. I spent far more time hunting than fishing. But over the past couple of weeks I’ve had a chance to sit down and talk with Marcia Woolman, who will be hosting a fly-tying demonstration at NSLM shortly, and it’s unlocked the subject for me quite a bit.

Marcia Woolman is an avid trout fisherman, fly tier, and cold water conservationist. With over 33 years of experience with Trout Unlimited, she has a wealth of experience in the entomology of streams.
Marcia Woolman is an avid trout fisherman, fly tier, and cold water conservationist. With over 33 years of experience with Trout Unlimited, she has a wealth of experience in the entomology of streams.

It’s easy to get lost when you focus on the material objects involved in angling. For centuries, anglers have been expanding their options in search of flexibility. With her view beyond the plethora of options, Marcia gets to the heart of the matter: it’s about nature and how we interact with it. For much of Marcia’s presentation, the tie is an avenue for learning about nature. It’s really a lesson about all the players in the ecosystem; the life cycles of the mayfly and the fish, the changing of the seasons and the habits of all throughout the day. The successful angler will be the one who is most familiar with the habits of the animals in the ecosystem.

Since I live just a short walk from the Shenandoah River, I’ve been reading up on angling. Marcia’s been an inspiration: I may try fishing again this summer! I have a host of options for additional reading. The Chapman Collection is a huge resource on fly fishing.

On the wall of the Main Reading Room, we have a selection of flies collected and framed by George Chapman.
On the wall of the Main Reading Room, we have a selection of flies collected and framed by George Chapman.

Since I live so close to the Shenandoah, it makes sense to look up bass fishing first, as the Shenandoah is a haven for both smallmouth and largemouth bass. The Chapman Collection has quite a few titles on bass fishing, and many general fly fishing titles as well. The aggressive nature of bass also make it an excellent option for beginners. Perfect!

Larger fish prey on swimming mice and small rodents. The mouse is a staple in fly fishing.
Larger fish prey on swimming mice and small rodents. The mouse is a staple in the fly fishing repertoire.
The flies were carefully framed by Chapman, who donated a large fly fishing book collection to the Library in 2011.
The flies were carefully framed by Chapman, who donated a large fly fishing book collection to the Library in 2011.
These rare pre-serial Orvis rods make perfect centerpieces, and are the gift of NSLM member Viviane M. Warren and her son, Nicholas Frederick Pratt.
These rare pre-serial Orvis rods make perfect centerpieces, and are the gift of NSLM member Viviane M. Warren and her son, Nicholas Frederick Pratt.
Flies tied by Doug Swisher, whose books on fly fishing strategy are available for access in the Main Reading Room.
Flies tied by Doug Swisher, whose books on fly fishing strategy are available for access in the Main Reading Room.

Marcia’s presentation, “Tying Flies for All the Right Reasons” will be on February 7 in the Library. We still have a few spots left, so contact me if you would like to join us!

In the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room, I came across a rare gem, tucked away in the John H. Daniels Manuscripts Collection. It’s a poem called “The Bonie Moorhen: A Hunting Song.” The manuscript is an autograph manuscript by Robert Burns (1759-1796), the foremost national poet of Scotland. Burns wrote poetry and composed songs, and he also collected Scottish folk songs for publication. Many Americans haven’t heard of Robert Burns, but still sing his song “Auld Lang Syne” at the end of each year.

Its not every day you can crack open an autograph manuscript from the king of Scottish poetry!
Its not every day you can crack open an autograph manuscript from *the* Scottish poet!

At face value, the poem is a hunting song about the difficulty of capturing a grouse in the wild. A local manages to win away with the grouse where all others failed.

The transcribed hunting song. A "moor-hen" is more widely known to us as a grouse, whose excellent camouflage and sudden flight makes it a difficult target.
The transcribed hunting song. A “moor-hen” is more widely known to us as a grouse, whose excellent camouflage and sudden flight makes it a difficult target.

However, there’s intrigue and romance afoot in this poem: The poem serves as an allegory for Burns’ relationship with Nancy McLehose, who exchanged letters with Burns in the 1780s. Nancy was estranged from her husband, and urged Burns to refrain from publishing the transparent song.

Apparently, the poem is a not-so-loosely veiled allegory about Burns and his correspondent friend, Clarinda, who married a Glasgow gentleman named Maclehose.
Apparently, the poem is a not-so-loosely veiled allegory about Burns and his correspondent friend, Clarinda, who married a Glasgow gentleman named McLehose.
Burns did not publish the poem in his lifetime, submitting to Clarinda's request not to publish. The poem was published after Burns' death.
Burns did not publish the poem in his lifetime, submitting to Clarinda’s request not to publish. The poem was published after Burns’ death.

Do you want to learn more about Robert Burns? If you’re in the region, you should check out the upcoming event, Hylton in the Highlands at the Hylton Performing Arts Center on GMU’s Prince William Campus. This year’s festival is next Saturday, January 24 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The day-long festival celebrates Scottish culture with music, interactive presentations, exhibits, and food tastings.

Further, the Hylton Center also hosts a Burns Supper to commemorate the life and works of Robert Burns. The event is complete with a special performance by the musical duo Alan Reid and Rob van Sante, a poetry reading, Scotch whisky tasting and the presentation of Scotland’s “National Dish,” haggis.

Fellow Kathleen Crandell
Fellow Kathleen Crandell

We have two Fellows researching at the Library currently – Collin McKinney and Kathleen Crandell. We’ve already met Collin, so now we’ll meet Kathleen!

Where are you from?

Clarke County, Virginia

Do you have any institution affiliation (such as a university or museum)?

No current affiliation but I received my PhD from Virginia Tech.

What are you researching?

A historical perspective on the causes, incidence, management and treatment of laminitis in horses’ is my topic. My intention is to document the changes in the understanding and treatment of this devastating disease in equines throughout the centuries to present day. Although even today we do not know the exact mechanism for the second leading cause of death in horses and ponies, perhaps by looking at how it has been handled in the past will further the understanding of how to treat the animals today.

Why are you researching at NSLM?

Because of the excellent selection of books from centuries past on veterinary care of animals.

What is your goal with your research?

To write a comprehensive article on the topic for publication.

How did you find out about the Fellowship program and NSLM?

I have been a member of the National Sporting Library and Museum for over 20 years and saw the Fellowship advertised in the newsletter.


We’re happy to have Kathleen researching with us at the NSLM until the end of March. Feel free to leave a comment or question for her here!

Our first five bookmark designs contain images from the Library and Museum collections.
Our first five bookmark designs contain images from the Library and Museum collections.

We’re excited to announce our first NSLM bookmarks available at the Library! These limited-edition bookmarks are available for free to our visitors, and include images of artwork and illustrations found in the collections of the National Sporting Library & Museum. Collect all five; when these designs are gone we plan to have new ones!

Fellow Collin McKinney hard at work in the library main reading room
Fellow Collin McKinney hard at work in the library main reading room

Welcome to our newest John H. Daniels Fellow, Collin McKinney! We’d like to share a little information about our Fellows here so our NSLM community can learn about the researchers spending time with the collections in our Library. Fellowship Advisor, Erin Livengood, asked Collin a few questions, and here’s what he had to say:

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in California, but I have been living in Pennsylvania for almost 8 years now. I hate winter and so I am hoping that being a few hours further south will help me get through January and February.

Do you have any institution affiliation?

I am a professor at Bucknell University, and I teach in the Department of Spanish.

What are you researching?

My area of specialization is masculinity studies. We’ve all heard the nursery rhyme, “What are little boys made of? Slugs and snails and puppy-dog tails, that’s what little boys are made of.” But I’m curious as to what the ingredients of a man might be. I am interested in the way that cultures construct masculinity and how individuals portray their own masculinity. I have published articles on masculinity and fashion, masculinity and sex, and even the facial hair trends of the nineteenth century. My current project deals with masculinity and sport.

Why are you researching at the NSLM?

If you research sport you realize that most sports have a symbolic connection with warfare. Even the way we discuss sport is loaded with militaristic metaphors. In the case of field sports the link is much more obvious. Hunting, riding, and dueling were all meant to hone the skills needed to be effective warriors. I plan to use the library’s collection of hunting manuals from the nineteenth century to look at the way these texts implicitly shaped popular notions of masculinity.

What is your goal with your research?

My plan is to publish an article about the link between masculinity and field sports in the nineteenth century. Eventually, I hope to publish a book on Spanish masculinity in the nineteenth century.

How did you find out about the Fellowship program and the NSLM?

I am on sabbatical and was looking at a list of fellowships on the MLA (Modern Language Association) website. The description of the Daniels fellowship and the collection at the NSLM seemed like a good match with my project.


Since 2007, the NSLM has hosted the Fellowship program in honor of the legacy of sportsman and book collector John H. Daniels (1921-2006). Past Fellowship recipients include post-graduate students, authors, curators, museum professionals, professors, and scholars researching a variety of subjects related to field sports. The diversity of fellows’ projects reflects the wide variety of material within the NSLM collections. Topics include history, art, literature, anthropology, and sport, with research projects ranging from the architecture of horse stables, history of horsemanship, equestrian fashion, and poetry, to falconry, veterinary science, environmental conservation and fly fishing.

We wish Collin the best of luck in his research here at the NSLM. Feel free to leave a comment for him here and look forward to meeting a new Fellow in just a couple months.

Last week I showed you some images from “Howitt’s Animals,” a two-volume presentation set of etchings by Samuel Howitt (1765-1822). We did a brief article on these volumes in the Fall 2014 NSLM Newsletter, but I wanted to show off more of the images than we had space for in print. Without further ado, let’s get to the pretty pictures!

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I find it very easy to see the influence of the country on Howitt. He often chooses images that would be passed over by the mere sportsman, such as a mother tending to her pups.
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The stealthy approach? Maybe one of our readers who is more familiar with wing shooting and dogs can tell me more about what’s depicted here.
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Howitt’s animals sometimes have very large eyes, which strikes my modern eye as cartoonish. The detail, however, is quite fine in the antlers.
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I admit, this one makes me chuckle. If that horse on the right isn’t a parody of somebody that Howitt knew, I’ll eat my hat! Those horses are flat-out gossiping.
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An impressive depiction of a hare. Whenever I show this volume, people like to stop on this page and look for a few minutes.
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Growing up in the country, Howitt likely spent a good deal of time around cows. His trees always seem to twist and turn, too. Many of these images have excited branches stretching out into smaller branches close to the ground.
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This is my favorite. These sheep really stand out to me. Maybe it’s the realistic detail in the horns, the ears, the eyes.
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I love it! It merits a closer look.

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NSLM welcomed Erin Livengood to our staff recently. Erin comes on board as NSLM’s new Educational Programs Manager & Fellowship Advisor. She will be working to grow the educational programming events and projects at NSLM, as well as providing liaison support for participants in the John H. Daniels Fellowship Program.

Erin received her Master’s degree in Social Science from the University of Chicago, focusing in museum studies and historic archaeology of the Southeastern United States. She holds a Bachelor’s degree with honors from the American University, where her honors thesis focused on historic archaeology in Virginia.

Before joining the National Sporting Library and Museum, Erin worked in artifact registration at the Oriental Institute in Chicago. Erin has experience in exhibitions, registration, and curation at the Oriental Institute, the Smithsonian Institution and the National Geographic Society, as well as at the University of Chicago and American University. Erin has varied archaeological field experience in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Louisiana.

A native of Cumberland, Maryland, Erin now lives in Winchester, Virginia with her fiancé, Will Carosella. They both enjoy yoga, tour cycling, hiking, gardening, and visiting the many vineyards in northern Virginia.